The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises – High Risk Fire Hazards & Precautions – Part 100

November 4, 2019 3:14 pm

In LWF’s blog series for healthcare professionals, our aim is to give information on best practice of fire safety in hospitals and other healthcare premises. In part 99, LWF looked at the potential fire risk posed by physiotherapy departments. In part 100, we consider another potential high-risk fire area – the use of magnetic resonance diagnostic equipment.

Although areas containing magnetic resonance diagnostic equipment are a high-risk fire area, there are also other precautions which should be taken from a safety point of view.

Strong magnetic fields are generated by magnetic resonance diagnostic equipment and are contained within a designated controlled area within the healthcare venue. Access to that area should be limited to authorised personnel and any unauthorised personnel should be appropriately screened before entering the controlled area.

One reason why access to such areas must be limited and controlled is that the strong magnetic field can affect the operation of heart pacemakers and cause a projectile effect on ferromagnetic materials.

Within the controlled area, there may be an additional inner controlled area where the magnetic field is stronger than in the initial area. Additional precautions should be taken by any personnel entering the inner controlled area. All mechanical watches, credit cards and ferromagnetic objects should be removed and left at the reception area prior to entering the inner controlled area.

All ferromagnetic objects such as pins, scissors, keys, tools, hair-grips, eye-glasses which have ferromagnetic parts should be removed from the person and clothing. Additionally, no ferromagnetic objects such as tools, gas, cylinders, trolleys etc. should not be taken into the inner controlled area.

It should be noted that from a fire safety perspective, there are non-ferrous fire extinguishers available for purchase for use and storage in such areas.

The restrictions on ferromagnetic objects and pacemakers also have implications for fire safety. Fire safety procedures should be prepared by the responsible person who has responsibility for magnetic resonance as nominated by the Chief Executive along with healthcare fire safety advisers, the local fire authority and the magnetic resonance safety adviser.

The fire safety procedures prepared must consider the potential effects of fire in areas close to the magnetic resonance equipment. Such considerations will allow for the creation of a managed ‘shut down’ procedure to make the equipment safe and allow unauthorised personnel to access the controlled area in a safe manner.

In part 101 of this series, LWF will continue to look at the potential fire risks found in the magnetic resonance diagnostic equipment. In the meantime, if you have any questions about this blog, or wish to discuss your own project with one of our fire engineers, please contact us.

Lawrence Webster Forrest has been working with their clients for over 25 years to produce innovative and exciting building projects. If you would like further information on how LWF and fire strategies could assist you, please contact LWF on freephone 0800 410 1130.

While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information

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